A pediatrician at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, is the founder and chairman of a new section approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The new section is called the Section for Complementary, Holistic and Integrative Medicine (SCHIM) and will be chaired by Kathi Kemper, M.D.,M.P.H., author of “The Holistic Pediatrician.”
Physicians from across the United States and Canada have joined the committee, which will address the role of complimentary and alternative medicines for children. This is the first new section approved by the AAP in three years.
“We support the mission of the AAP by integrating evidence-based, safe and effective complementary therapies into pediatric practice and educating physicians and families about the research on commonly used complementary therapies,” Kemper said. “The field of complementary, holistic and integrative medicine has grown dramatically over the past 10 years. Yet little attention has been devoted to education, research, collaboration with other professionals who care for children, policy-making and advocacy for pediatric patients and families seeking these therapies or for pediatricians who attempt to counsel patients responsibly about them.” Complementary therapies are used in conjunction with mainstream medicine. Holistic medicine refers to care of the whole child (body, mind, emotions and spirit) in the context of the family, culture and community. Integrative medicine is a system of comprehensive care that emphasizes wellness and healing of the whole person, with special emphasis on empowering patients and families.
Therapies included in integrative medicine are generally grouped into four categories, each of which includes therapies regarded as mainstream and complementary. These include:
• Biochemical therapies: medications, herbs and dietary supplements.
• Lifestyle therapies: nutrition, special diets, exercise, environment, and mind-body therapies and techniques.
• Biomechanical therapies: massage and other types of bodywork, chiropractic and osteopathic treatments and surgery.
• Bioenergetic therapies: acupuncture/acupressure and related therapies, prayer and spiritual healing, therapeutic touch, healing touch, Reiki, Qigong and laying on of hands healing, and homeopathy.
“Often these specific therapies are combined within traditional systems of healing,” Kemper said. “For example, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and most forms of Native American healing practices include attention to diet, exercise, herbs and spiritual practices.”
Approximately 20 to 40 percent of healthy children and more than 50 percent of children with chronic, recurrent and incurable conditions use complementary therapies in conjunction with mainstream care. Use tends to be most common among patients with cancer, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, asthma, allergies, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, inflammatory bowel diseases, and behavioral and mental health problems.
Currently, there is little research on effectiveness of most CAM therapies for these conditions.
“The National Institutes of Health funds studies, but they have not focused on pediatrics as a population of high-priority,” Kemper said. “As pediatricians, we need to advocate for research funding for infants, children and adolescents.”
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About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Brenner Children’s Hospital. It is licensed to operate 1,187 acute care, rehabilitation, psychiatry and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report. Brenner Children’s was named one of the top children’s hospitals in the nation by Child magazine.